With the breaking news of the tuberculosis outbreak in Duval County our state is on high alert.  This airborne disease has been found within the homeless community, making it even more difficult to track. Complicating the issue is the fact that the State Legislature recently passed a bill that closed the only state hospital equipped to handle the drug-resistant form of TB. Located in Palm Beach County, A.G. Holley State Hospital was closed ahead of schedule last week prompting Department of Health officials to place many of the infected individuals in Duval County in motels back in their communities. According to public record, health officials in Duval County contacted the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia in February 2012 concerning what we now know is the largest tuberculosis outbreak in the U.S. in 20 years.  Legislators were not briefed on the outbreak before they voted to close the TB hospital in March 2012. In a letter sent directly to the Governor, I impressed upon him the need to reopen the facility and empanel a committee to discuss the lack of transparency in the process.  In the interest of transparency in government, it is absolutely essential that all information be available to legislators and considered before a vote. I voted against closing this important facility because of the potential health risk to our communities.  It is always crucial for lawmakers to have all the information necessary to make an informed decision before an important vote, especially when it affects public health.

Please take a moment to learn more about this epidemic in this video and article from WPTV.